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all3media international

Programming Profile

All3Media International embraces the New Normal

25-09-2020

Maartje Horchner, exec VP of content at All3Media International, talks us through her C21 Digital Screenings playlist and discusses how events of this year have changed things.

 

Distributors have had to think on their feet this year, as programme supply lines dry up due to the production freeze and traditional markets go online, and the sales strategy shifts to readymade content and pitching via Zoom. Like other distributors, All3Media International has been impacted and has adapted its strategy accordingly.

 

“We are fortunate that the majority of our dramas had completed photography and had started post-production before lockdown,” says Maartje Horchner, exec VP of content at the company.

 

“The flexibility of our producers and the initiatives they have undertaken have been remarkable, so shows have been delivered with the highest production values and there’s a string of shows in development that could be produced within the strictest of social distancing guidelines – all without the viewer being aware of any production requirements.”

 

Horchner
Maartje Horchner,
All3Media International

The cancellation of physical events like MipTV, Series Mania and many others has been a challenge but, again, Horchner says the company has adapted to the new normal and says there have even been some benefits to the new ways of doing business.

 

“The lack of physical markets is the obvious change, yet the sales team has been brilliant at keeping in touch with broadcaster clients. Arguably, they have spent more time with clients – albeit virtually. One other thing to note, perhaps, is that the onscreen talent has been more willing and available to support with interviews for client launches too.”

 

The changing requirements of buyers worldwide have been reflected in the programme slate All3Media International has fielded this fall, with some Covid-friendly formats, some escapist factual-entertainment for armchair travellers looking to satisfy their wanderlust and some major dramas that – somewhat fortuitously – had wrapped shooting and were safely in the editing suites when lockdown hit.

 

Des
Des

One of these – true-crime drama Des (3×60’) – debuted on ITV in the UK in September and had its international premiere via C21 Digital Screenings the same week. The three-parter tells the grisly story of 1980s serial killer Dennis Nilsen from arrest to incarceration, and is notable for star David Tennant’s uncanny and unnerving visual likeness to Nilsen.

 

“We know from the first few minutes that Nilsen is a serial killer, so it’s more about process and the game of cat and mouse as he reveals where he buried the bodies. The film festivals are all knocking on the door for this one,” Horchner says of the New Pictures production.

 

On a lighter note, Channel 5 drama All Creatures Great & Small is also on the playlist. Coproduced with WGBH in the US, the new adaptation of James Herriot’s classic novels is being billed as C5’s most significant drama commission since its return to the genre. The six-part series, plus Christmas special, is being made by prodco Playground Entertainment.

 

All Creatures Great & Small
All Creatures Great & Small

“While development started well before any notion of Covid-19, the nostalgia for the 1978 production and the ongoing global appeal of the Herriot books, combined with the heart-warming nature of the story of the young vet in Yorkshire, has given this new series a comfort factor that is appreciated by our buyers,” says Horchner.

 

Roadkill, meanwhile, is a four-part fictional thriller about a self-made, forceful and charismatic Conservative Party politician whose public and private lives are picked apart by his enemies. Starring House and The Night Manager’s Hugh Laurie and penned by celebrated writer David Hare, the show is being produced by The Forge (National Treasure) and will air on BBC1 this autumn.

 

“If I may quote from one of the characters in the show, Roadkill is ‘locked and cocked.’ Brilliant performances, brilliant script – modern politics brought to life and told from the heart,” says Horchner. “Genuinely important issues about the prison system are given a spotlight within a very dramatic framework.”

 

The Sounds
The Sounds

International drama The Sounds (8×60′), meanwhile, is a coproduction from Canada’s Shaftesbury and Kiwi firm South Pacific Pictures. Describing the show, the All3Media exec says: “Interesting funding on this one, with Canada, the UK and New Zealand coming together to film in an area of outstanding natural beauty in New Zealand’s remote Marlborough Sounds. A strong female character leads in this thriller about identity and the family power play around a business. You will have to keep your wits about you for the major twists.”

 

On the unscripted side, All3Media International has titles including blue-chip documentary The Sex Traffickers and behind-the-scenes workplace series The Savoy (ITV), as well as big personalities such as Gordon Ramsay in Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted (National Geographic) and new duo Dick and Angel Strawbridge in Escape to the Chateau: Make Do & Mend (Channel 4).

 

The factual slate “encompasses returning personalities and new series with returnable potential,” says Horchner, highlighting Story Films’ series The Sex Traffickers as one that “features hugely sensitive and emotional subject matter – a proper documentary. It took over two years for Story Films to produce this and it offers important insights into a covert police operation.”

 

Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted
Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted

Regarding the new Ramsay show, in which the chef travels the world tasting local food, Horchner says: “Warning – he is not always the most appreciative customer when tasting the locals’ delicacies and speciality cuisine. Great TV, though.”

 

The latest spin-off from Channel 4 hit Escape to the Chateau, meanwhile, “is the perfect series for before, during and after a pandemic as skilled fixer Dick and the flamboyant and creative Angel show us how to turn our homes into the chateaus the couple are renowned for.”

 

ITV gameshow The Cube is also back, and is a show that “inherently lends itself to socially distanced production,” says Horchner, while US gameshow The Hustler, from Studio Lambert and All3Media America for ABC, is “a whodunit gameshow that harks back to classic games and films in the genre.” Due to its flexibility regarding scale and costs, the latter is generating a lot of interest in Europe, Horchner adds.

 

The Cube
The Cube

“Some of the slate does respond particularly well to these requirements – we’ve got The Cube, which is a big primetime entertainment show but required very little onscreen adaptation to be filmed this autumn. Equally, Gogglebox – where the studio is the cast’s homes – carried on filming throughout lockdown in several countries, with minor behind-the-scenes adjustments.”

 

Lastly, Horchner highlights new BBC1 talent format The Search, from start-up prodco ModestTV. “It’s pure primetime entertainment that shows off some seriously impressive undiscovered talent. Positivity, appreciation and affection abound,” she says.

 

Looking back on the year so far, it hasn’t just been about the lockdown. The multiplication and broader audience acceptance of streaming services as viewers stayed home has changed the industry as well, and Horchner welcomes the new landscape.

 

The Search
The Search

“The new entrants have broadened the field,” she says. “Competition is back in that area and we are out of monopoly situations, so it’s more interesting regarding sales and windows. It’s also interesting on the coproduction side, as local SVoD platforms such as Stan [in Australia] are now involved in two of our major new shows for the first window in Australia.”

 

Looking further ahead, Horchner flags up one such project with Stan called Eden. Created by writer-director Vanessa Gazy and based on an original concept by Deb Cox of Every Cloud, Eden (8×60’) is filming in Byron Bay. The series explores the hidden lives of the locals in a seemingly idyllic coastal town following the disappearance of a young woman. It was developed in collaboration with Bryan Elsley (Skins).

 

“Two Brothers Pictures has two fine dramas in the wings too: Angela Black and The Tourist. These add to the utterly remarkable Boys [working title] from Russell T Davies and Red Productions with a fabulous young cast as well as cameos from well-known faces,” adds Horchner. “More on that soon.”



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